Drivesmart column: The lonely life of the owner’s manual

Drivesmart column: The lonely life of the owner’s manual

The manufacturer of your vehicle has put a lot of important safety information on those pages.

By Tim Schewe

One of the loneliest books in the world might just be your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Consigned to the glove box, many never see the light of day until they find a new home in the recycle bin. That’s a shame because the manufacturer of your vehicle has put a lot of thought and important safety information on those pages.

The most basic piece of safety equipment to appear in the owner’s manual was likely the seatbelt. Mine shows pictures of how to wear it properly, warns of what could happen to me if I did not and explains how to care for it. Proper use of the seatbelt is extremely important if your vehicle is equipped with airbags.

Speaking of airbags, this was probably the next step up in occupant protection. Knowing that you must sit at least 25 cm (10 inches) back from the airbag and that you must not put small children in a seating position protected by an airbag will prevent injury caused by these systems if you follow the advice.

Your supplemental restraint system (airbags) will even tell you that it is ready to protect you each time your start your vehicle. Do you know what to watch for on the instrument panel to insure that this is so? If not, refer to your owner’s manual.

In general, airbags are designed to last for the life of your vehicle. However, the first generation of some airbags may not and the manufacturer recommends that they are replaced after a certain period of time. Is your vehicle one of them? Refer to your owner’s manual to find out.

As a passenger, do you ride with your feet on the dash or like to prop a pillow against the window beside you and nap on a trip? Do you use seat covers? All of these practices are warned about in your owner’s manual.

While we’re on the subject, airbags now mandate that you hold the steering wheel at nine and three or eight and four instead of the 10 and two that we probably all learned back in the day. No more hand over hand steering unless we are proceeding at parking lot speeds or slower.

Moving ahead in time, let’s add anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control to our vehicles. We may have learned about stomp and steer as opposed to pumping the brake, when to disable traction control and that electronic stability control should never be shut off. Yes, it’s all in your owner’s manual.

A driver’s life can be very complicated today depending on what comes as standard equipment on your new vehicle and what you have purchased as an option. Lane departure warning, backup cameras, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, drowsiness alert, tire pressure monitoring are just some of the advanced safety systems available now.

They are not foolproof, require maintenance to keep them working properly and you have to know how they work and what they are telling you to use them effectively.

Where do you learn about all this stuff? You guessed it, by reading your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Need a refresher? Don’t consign that manual to the recycle bin. It’s a very valuable part of your vehicle’s equipment!

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cheryl Day, a member of the management team at the Cow Café West Coast Grill, celebrates the 200 Dine Cowichan Meals the restaurant sold in support of Island Savings’ Get a Meal, Give a Meal campaign. (Submitted)
Business notes: Dine & Sip Cowichan raises $10,000 for local food banks

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley business community

(Courtesy photo)
Editorial: Rent bank for Cowichan a wise investment

It’s essentially the collective emergency fund

North Cowichan will kick in more funding for the new field house at the Cowichan Sportsplex as the estimates of construction costs have dramatically risen. (File photo)
North Cowichan to contribute $325,000 more towards field house project

Cowichan Sportsplex project’s costs jump significantly

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m.
Trickster author Eden Robinson will be reading from her new book during an online conversation hosted by the Vancouver Island Regional Library on April 23. (Red Works Photography)
A&E column: Music, art, fundraising and renowned author

What’s going on in Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Most Read